Stories I love to tell

The other day, a patient came to the after hour clinic; staff told me that he has an expired health-card number and wanted me to know. I introduced myself and mentioned that he hasn’t valid insurance and his regular physician hasn’t been paid for the last two visits. He got irritated and told me he is First Nation and he deserves care regardless. I didn’t agree or disagree. I must say, I thought the situation was quite humorous. I asked him how I might help him. He said he’s been having lots of heartburn after he eats and wants some medications for it. After history (including a dietary & ruling out red flags) and an examination, I told him he was most likely being “poisoned” by processed foods. I asked him how the First Nation people used to eat before processed food. He proudly told me how they lived in harmony with the land and ate what nature provided. I told him that I think many people are ill from poor diet and that we can all learn from the traditional dietary principles. I told him to change his diet and that he might want to avoid taking meds that will only mask his symptoms. He agreed. He thanked me, said good bye and left the room. At the end of the corridor, he turned around and said, “I’ll get that card updated first thing Monday”.
The other day, I got an email from my ER chief (copied patient services) about a complaint from a middle age lady whom I saw in ER. I had seen her for abdominal pain in the evening. I arranged an ultrasound for the following am and follow up with gastroenterologist. She had no complaint about her management; but she thought I was flippant and disrespectful.
I reflected for a moment and quickly realize my mistake. I realized that ER patients are unlike my own patients whom I have know for decades. While certain lightheartedness are reassuring and therapeutic for my own patients; they might seem uncaring to a new patient. I picked up the phone and apologized to the lady for her negative experience. I listened to her perspectives and reassured her that I meant no disrespect and appreciated her feedback. I then enquired about how she is feeling. I explained to her the possibility is of choledocholithiasis. I explained to her the importance of dietary habits that can potentially prevent further problems. She thanked me for calling her. I told her to contact me if she needs any help.
I then emailed my chief and patient services with details of our conversation. The matter was settled the same afternoon; and I learned my lesson.

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